I was annoyed to hear a famous economist used the word, “yousuruni (in essence)” incessantly in discussion about Japan’s economic policy - “Abenomix” in recent TV show. The economist shouldn’t have been aware of doing that.

We call the habit to repeat the same interjection such as “well,” “I mean,” “in essence,” “so-called” unconsciously in conversation or speech 口癖- kuchiguse ('mouth habit' by literal translation) in Japanese.

Actually many people have the habit of using the same ‘filler word’ unconsciously.

Masayoshi Ohira (1910 -1980), the 68th Prime Minister of Japan was famous and ridiculed for inserting “ah” and “uh” frequently in his speech and conversation. His nickname was 'Ah, uh PM." He was said to be the PM whose speech is unclear (because of the use of too many "Ah," "uh" and inarticulate interjections) though the meaning is clear in contrast to the 74th Prime Minister, Noboru Takeshita (1924-2000) whose speech was articulate, but meaning was unclear.

How do you say such habit like we call ‘Kuchiguse’ in English in single word?


Please note that I'm asking the English equivalent to the habit of using stuff words like 口癖 (mouth habit) in a single word, not looking for "filler,""gabbage," or "stuff word." I know them, and I already mentioned 'filler' in the above question.

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    I would say "a verbal tic".
    – None
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 8:13
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    There's a difference between: repeated "uh" as a tic; filler words with no meaning like "like", like, or even "Well, er, I mean, um..." which gives the speaker time to think; and an unconsciously-repeated favourite phrase like the "in essence". Which are you asking about?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 10:57
  • Andrew Leach. I'm asking the latter -"in essence,""I mean,""that is,""so called," " You know," "in any rate," etc. Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 11:22
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    You might say a "nervous habit" but I don't think there's a precise word.
    – user24964
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 12:07
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    Curiously, although Um and Ah are the most common examples of such "verbal tics", the specific conjunction "umming and ahing" normally alludes to having reservations. So in that context, at least, they're not really "meaningless". Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 14:51

4 Answers 4


I believe the term you are searching for is "embolalia":

inserting useless words or utterances into speech, usually to stall for time while collecting one's thoughts, such as "like", "you know", "I mean", etc.

  • Thanks. I checked ‘embolalia” with online CED and OED. Both don’t carry this word. But Merriam Webster defines it as “the interpolation of meaningless sounds or words into speech,” and Kenkyusha’s Reader English Japanese Dictionary at hand carries the words (embolalia / embololalia) with definition as a medical term to describe ‘disease or symptom to interpolate unnecessary words in speech.’ Both definitions appear to respond to my question. Further, I’m interested in etymology of ‘embolalia / embololalia,” and wonder if there are any alternatives to them. Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 22:38
  • The etymology of embolalia/embololalia comes from Greek: embolos which means "something thrown in", from emballo-, "to throw in"; and -lalia which means "speaking".
    – Kasenjo
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 8:46

I don't have enough reputation yet to post this as a comment (since this doesn't exactly answer your question), but I wanted to add that what you called "filler" is more precisely referred to as a "verbal crutch". The excessive use of useless (or unnecessary) words is called "verbiage", but this is more a synonym for "wordiness" as opposed to a reference to the use of verbal crutches.


..."Crutch words are those expressions we pepper throughout our language as verbal pauses, and sometimes as written ones, to give us time to think, to accentuate our meaning (even when we do so mistakenly), or just because these are the words that have somehow lodged in our brains and come out on our tongues the most, for whatever reason. Quite often, they do little to add meaning, though. Sometimes we even use them incorrectly. Almost always, we don't need them at all, which doesn't mean we won't persist in using them."...



Everyone the word you are looking for is EXPLETIVE used as an adjective. The word is more commonly used as a noun meaning to swear, but when used as an adjective it means; serving to fill out a sentence or verse.

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    I doubt that would be commonly understood, and doesn't really address the habitual aspect of the question.
    – Joffan
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 17:44

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